Friday Five: Religious holidays, Notre Dame fire, declining church ties, journalist grants, Chick-fil-A

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It's Good Friday.

And Passover begins tonight at sundown.

Enter Greg Garrison, longtime religion writer for the Birmingham News, with informative overviews of both religious holidays.

In one piece, Garrison asks, "If Jesus suffered and died, why is it called Good Friday?"

His other helpful primer explores this question: "What is Passover?"

Be sure to check out both articles.

Now let's dive into the (Good) Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: New today, GetReligion Editor Terry Mattingly has our latest post on this week’s major news.

The compelling title on tmatt’s must-read post:

Priest rushes under the flames inside Notre Dame Cathedral to save a ... STATUE of Jesus?

Over at the New York Post, former GetReligion contributor Mark Hemingway makes this case in regard to Notre Dame news coverage:

Just in time for Easter, The New York Times has been forced to run yet another correction that speaks to the paper’s profound ignorance regarding the basic beliefs of Christianity.

Meanwhile, there’s, um, this from The Associated Press:

Earlier, tmatt explored what was lost, what was saved, what was “news” and what issues remain after the Notre Dame fire. 

2. Most popular GetReligion post: I buried the lede a little because Clemente Lisi’s timely commentary as flames were burning at Notre Dame was our most-read post of the week — and our most viral analysis of 2019 so far.

Lisi opened his insightful post this way:

Is it a news story if a church is set on fire or vandalized in some other way? What about if it’s part of a string of incidents? What if it happens five times? How about 10 times?

What if there are flames pouring out of one of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and it’s Monday of Holy Week?

We will come back to the flames over Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in a moment.

The answers to the earlier questions are yes, yes, yes, yes and, of course, yes! As someone who worked as a news reporter (and later a editor) at two major metropolitan dailies (at the New York Post and New York Daily News) and a major news network website (ABC News), I can tell you that any suspicion of arson at a house of worship, for example, is a major story.

If you missed it, be sure to read it all.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Here are some important numbers you might have missed amid the other significant headlines of the week.

The Associated Press reports:

NEW YORK (AP) — The percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has plunged by 20 percentage points over the past two decades, hitting a low of 50% last year, according to a new Gallup poll. Among major demographic groups, the biggest drops were recorded among Democrats and Hispanics.

Gallup said church membership was 70% in 1999 — and close to or higher than that figure for most of the 20th century. Since 1999, the figure has fallen steadily, while the percentage of U.S. adults with no religious affiliation has jumped from 8% to 19%.

Among Americans identifying with a particular religion, there was a sharp drop in church membership among Catholics — dropping from 76% to 63% over the past two decades as the church was buffeted by clergy sex-abuse scandals. Membership among Protestants dropped from 73% to 67% percent over the same period.

The partisan divide is a major factor, according to experts quoted by AP.

4. Shameless plug: Twenty-eight journalists have received grants to participate in “Spiritual Exemplars: A Global Project on Engaged Spirituality.”

Among those chosen are some names that followers of the Godbeat will recognize, including Ken Chitwood, Kim Lawton, Julia Lieblich, Diane Winston and Kimberly Winston.

Congrats to all the recipients!

5. Final thought: Speaking of Chick-fil-A, Julia Duin wrote a few weeks ago about the controversy over San Antonio refusing to allow the world’s best chicken sandwich at its airport.

A few new developments this week: The Alamo City’s council voted 5-4 not to reconsider its ban on Chick-fil-A. Meanwhile, religious liberty advocates held a “Save Chick-fil-A Day” at the Texas Capitol.

Prediction: This is not the last we’ll hear of this brouhaha.

Happy (Good) Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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